A 19-year-old man from West Knoxville has been sentenced to 10 years with one year being served as split confinement after pleading guilty to aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor charges.
On Friday, the Knox County District Attorney General's Office Child Abuse Unit successfully obtained a plea agreement with Joseph Adam Morton.
According to a release from the Knoxville Police Department, Morton pleaded guilty to eight counts of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor.
In May 2015, the Knoxville Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force received information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that someone was distributing child pornography images from an America Online email account.
On July 7, 2015, investigators with ICAC as well as deputies with the Knox County Sheriff's Office ICAC Unit executed a state search warrant at Joseph Adam Morton's West Knoxville home.
Morton was 17 years old at the time. Investigators said they seized several electronic devices in relation to the investigation.
A forensic examination of Morton's electronic devices revealed he was in possession of 396 file images believed to be child pornography/child erotica. Twenty five file videos believed to be child pornography/child erotica were also found, according to the release.
The files contained images showing pre-pubescent children as well as infants involved in sexual acts.
On August 7, 2015, Morton was arrested for aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor as well as sexual exploitation of a minor and taken to the Richard L. Bean Juvenile Detention Center.
Due to the nature of the crimes, Honorable Judge Tim Irwin transferred Morton's case from juvenile court to Knox County Criminal Court. On December 13, 2016, a Knox County Grand Jury returned a true bill in the case involving Morton.
Once released, Morton must register as a Violent Sex Offender with the State of Tennessee Sex Offender Registry and will remain on lifetime supervision.